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Why We Do What We Do

Why We Do What We Do

In the past few years, we’ve drastically changed our cooking and eating style. If you’re interested, here’s a bit of why we do what we do…

Why Whole Food?

In 2010 after we read Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters, we felt challenged to start eating a totally natural diet – free from long, hard-to-pronounce ingredient lists, high fructose corn syrup, and other questionable items. It might sound hard, but we’ve found it surprisingly easy to adapt to the new mindset, and incredibly rewarding.

Consuming whole, natural foods and knowing exactly what we put into our bodies makes us feel healthy and connected to the earth. It’s become a new way of life for us that melds our interest in health and nutrition with our love for eating good food. And once you find out what real food is supposed to taste like, it’s incredibly hard to go back!

Why Limit Meat?

Food Matters also made us ponder what it might look like to limit meat in our diet. The book doesn’t advocate being vegetarian – it just challenges you to think about the environmental impact of eating meat, especially with some unsustainable meat manufacturing processes in our country. It also advocates the health benefits of consuming less meat than the typical meat-laden American diet.

We decided to drop meat from our everyday cooking. However, we embrace the term “flexitarian“. On special occasions or when we’re out, enjoy seafood and organic grass-fed and/or local meat. And on vacation, all bets are off. We embrace a moderate approach to our eating to keep it sustainable.

Generally, we love cooking and eating vegetarian. It’s helped us become more creative in our cooking, as well as learn more about nutrition and foods we never knew existed. So, the majority of recipes you’ll see on this blog will be heavy on veggies. (And cheese and eggs, because we couldn’t live without those.)

Why Blog?

Before we became interested in food and nutrition, we ate from the frozen food section and fast food joints. Since we thought we were no good at cooking, we preferred to do what was easy and fast. Since then, we’ve gradually learned that the only thing holding us back was our inability to try what we thought we’d fail at.

If we can learn to cook, there’s hope for everyone!  We started this blog to share that cooking for a natural and ethical diet is not only possible, but rewarding and fulfilling for more than just your taste buds. We’re open to feedback on how we’re doing at keeping our recipes accessible, budget-friendly, and nutritious.

If You’re Feeling Inspired…

There’s lots of information out there on natural food and ethical eating. We’ve been inspired by:

Books
Food Matters (Mark Bittman)
Food Rules (Michael Pollan)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)

Documentaries
Food, Inc.
King Corn

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SonjaWhy We Do What We Do

Comments 29

  1. fooddreamer

    Very thoughtful post. It’s tough to strike a balance, but looks like you are well on your way. I’m struggling with some of these issues because, being pre-diabetic, I find it hard to figure out what to eat for dinner without centering it on protein. Animal protein is one of the easiest ways for me to get and stay full, although I do try to think creatively on that front and limit it a little.
    Thanks for giving me more “food” for thought.

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      Sonja

      Thanks for your comment! We’ve learned a lot about protein as part of a meatless diet – I’ve been surprised to learn that many foods have much more than I thought! I’m not sure about the specific recommendations for a pre-diabetic diet, but we’ve found filling proteins to be whole grains like quinoa, farro, and barley, beans, and tempeh, which is packed with protein. We also do a fair amount of cheese – especially cottage cheese, which has a ton of protein as well. Good luck, and we’ll continue to work on posting filling meatless ideas!

      1. judy

        I hope you start working with tofu! I ate a lot (and I do mean a lot =P) when I went pesce-vegetarian earlier this year. it’s versatile and there are a 101 ways to cook it. for recipes I’ve begun looking to ottolenghi for meatless ideas too.

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          Sonja

          Yes, we love tofu as well! We have a few posts with it thus far and will continue to experiment with it. I think it sometimes seems scary if you’ve never worked with it, but it’s become a favorite of ours as we’ve learned how to use it :)

  2. Shanon

    Your post is really inspiring. I’ve taken to not eating meat for the same reasons….I always have a hard time explaining myself to friends and family members my reasonings behind it, but your post says it all.

    Great pictures, by the way! :)

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      Sonja

      Thanks! It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve made similar decisions — and I agree that it’s hard to explain! I guess now I can save time and just point people here… :)

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      Sonja

      Thanks, Erin! I’m so glad you are enjoying it — and thanks to you for introducing me to the world of food blogs :)

  3. Tristan @ Enjoy Life With Breakfast

    Wonderful words, guys. The idea of maintaining an all-natural, organic and in-season diet has been something my wife and I have been striving for. Living in a city that not only allows this to happen, but actually encourages it, is truly great! Keep up the great work!

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      Sonja

      Thanks, Tristan! I’m so glad to hear you also are striving for an all-natural diet! Keep us posted on ways to do so at breakfast :)

  4. judy

    I’d recommend Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer as well. I went pesce-vegetarian for about half a year (i ate dairy & fish), but i lost it on a trip to Germany. c’mon – Germany! land of the currywurst! and also because it become difficult to plan meals with my partner, who loves his meat. but i guess i could take a page from you guys and lessen the meat instead of going full force by cutting it out completely. easier on the people around me and less guilt for me in the long run =)

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      Sonja

      Thanks for the recommendation! And yes, no need to go completely meatless if that’s not for you – even eating just one meatless meal per week is effective! Good luck in finding the right balance for you and your partner :)

  5. J

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your pictures on your site. What kind of camera do you use. The pics are beautiful.

    Thanks!

    1. Alex

      Thanks! We love taking them (some think we are weird).

      :)

      We use a Canon 7D with the 50mm lens… It’s a great camera!

  6. Amanda V

    I found your site via a Technorati search for vegetarian recipe blogs. Not only am I inspired by all the same books, documentaries, philosophies as you are, I’m especially inspired by people like YOU who are spreading the word that processed food and an over-consumption of meat is literally killing us. I added you to my Reader and I look forward to delving into your wholesome recipes, starting with that yummy-looking whole grain pita bread!

  7. Toby

    I love that you guys have dedicated your time to this philosophy. Food really does taste better when it’s not loaded with unnatural ingredients. I think what you are doing is so important and I love that you are sharing this message through your blog!

  8. Michelle

    Everything looks so amazing…… I think I could pin every recipe so I can try later. Thank you so much for sharing your talents…….

  9. katy

    I just stumbled upon your blog (thanks pinterest!) and just wanted to say thank you – I love it!!!!

    My husband and I just started eating a whole foods, plant based diet; similar to what it looks like you two are doing. We watched Forks Over Knives which (combined with a desire to move to a healthier way of live) really prompted us to make this change.

    Katy

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      Sonja

      Oh, thank you! So encouraging to hear about the change you’ve made in your lives as well. Best of luck, and keep us posted on any inspirations or things you’d like to see! :)

  10. Kim

    Sonja and Alex, I love your site! Can totally relate to having to learn to cook!!!

    I´m USA American but have lived in Spain for 20+ years. When I arrived 2 decades ago, frozen meals didn´t exist, in fact, processed food in general was limited here. Up-shot: I learned to cook and, as it turns out, healthy dishes!

    When I go home at Christmas every year, I can hardly eat the food. Any and every salad in the US, in general (if not a ¨health restaurant) with the exception of a Caesar salad, is full of sauces, dressings, mayonaise, grated cheeses, bacon bits, crackers, croutons, etc. The deserts are so crazy, unhealthy and fattening that I am amazed that most people don´t weigh 500 lbs! Although Spain has a growing over-weight population due to the advent of processed foods, the US healthy -eating movement is a total non-issue here for many people because part of the population simply doesn´t buy anything processed. Each little town has market day so you are always going to markets to get fresh fruits and veggies, olives, fish …. I admit to using Helman´s mayonaise (I´m from the USA Deap South) but most people I know even make their own mayonaise every time they are going to use it!

    This is a long post but I´m now into healthy eating blogs (USA blogs) as the recipes are so creative, just like yours. My cooking is very mediteranean with olive oil, garlic, onions, grated tomatoes, oregano, etc. as a base and now I am trying to branch out a bit, which is how I´ve ended up on your site.

    Just wanted to comment on how this idea of ¨fresh¨ foods is a given for many people here as it is so part of the Culture and therefore, life-style, of a greater part of the Spanish population. Finally, at work, you normally get 1.5 to 2 hours for lunch! So you get a first dish which is normally veg, then a second dish which is meat/fish/chicken, and finally a light desert (a piece of fruit, yogurt or mouse!). Furthermore, the portions are reasonable, not like in the US where the amount of food is overwhelming.

    Now I´m about to read about your noble efforts in Cambodia! Keep up this great blog! Thank you!

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      Sonja

      Kim – Thank you for such a nice comment! So great to hear from you, and about your passion for food. I studied abroad in Madrid and have a intense love for the country of Spain! So it’s very fun to hear from someone living there :)

      We also love cooking in the Mediterranean style — and one of our favorite dishes of all time is paella :)

      Thanks sharing your story – we look forward to hearing more about Spain and your pursuit of healthy eating!

  11. Kim

    Hi, Sonja & Alex.

    I can´t find anyone from the USA who has a Healthy Creative Cooking Blog who is coming to give a course in Barcelona. If you ever ¨get notice¨ of someone who is, please let me know or give them my email address as I would really like to attend.

    Madrid is a wonderful city! Supongo que hablas castellano ;) Vivo en Barcelona donde hablan Catalan (y castellano, como lengua secondaria) pero he visitado Madrid en muchas ocasiones y la ciudad siempre me ha encantado.

    I´m an absolute devotee of fish paella (not such a fan of Mar y Montaña, the Valencian version which includes fish, rabbit, pork, beef and bones as well)! My favorite regional food, though, is Basque and second would be Catalan. Most white, salt-water, fishes (Dorado, Merluza, Rape) make incredible fish dishes ¨a la Donostiarra¨ which is a famous, low calorie, very healthy, Basque (San Sebastian) dish. Just writing this, I may have to make it tonight for dinner!

    If you two come our way, 1 year, 5 years etc. from now, please contact me and let me know so we can all get together and eat some great, Healthy!, Mediterranean food!

    Best wishes! Kim

    PS: I´m assuming this Pomeranian is yall´s. We have a Pom named Bama (yes, I´m from Alabama and brought him to Spain from Alabama when he was a puppy 11 years ago and he is doing fine); we also have a mixed-breed female dog named Luna!! Neither cooks but they do love left-overs ;)!!!

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      Sonja

      Kim, somehow your response here escaped me in the craziness that was our past few months! Thanks for this nice note.

      I must admit I’ll have to say I “spoke” castellano now, since I’m incredibly out of practice since living there 10 years ago! I don’t get much chance to these days — but my heart always skips a beat when I hear it spoken with the castellano accent (not quite as common around here!) :)

      All those foods sound amazing. I’ll definitely let you know if we’re in the area in the future – it would be fun to meet. Spain is on our wishlist!

      And yes, the Pomeranian is ours – Luna (just like your Luna)! Fun to hear about your pups adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle :)

      All the best and keep in touch!
      Sonja

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